Less Selection Bias due to Games?

19 Jan, 2023 •

Less Selection Bias due to Games?

Bias; lately, much has been said about selection bias and the prevention of discrimination during the selection process. Yet the discussion and attempts to reduce bias during the selection process are of all times. The Boston Symphony Orchestra, for example, introduced blind auditions in the 1950s where musicians performed behind a screen and were not visible to the selectors. The goal was to eliminate gender bias and bring more diversity to the largely male orchestra. By selecting on talent and not on gender, the chance for a woman to be admitted rose from 25% to 46%.

This success story was also picked up outside the music world. Large companies – such as Deloitte and EY – apply parts of these “blind hiring” processes, for example by anonymizing CVs. AI-based technologies are also increasingly used to remove human bias from the selection processes. In design similar to the screen in the audition with the symphony orchestra, but with a modern technological twist with the aim to give everyone an equal chance.

Games as a Way to Create Equal Opportunities in the Selection Process

There are numerous ways to try to take bias out of the selection process and give everyone, regardless of race, gender, or other characteristics, a fair chance. One of these ways is the use of game-based assessments. HR specialist Bas van de Haterd (owner of Digitaal werven) describes game-based assessments as the way to give everyone an equal chance in selection procedures (see article in de Volkskrant). “Because people have a perception of what you can do based on prejudices, and a computer looks at what you can actually do and who you really are,” – Bas van de Haterd.

More and more often, games are added to the recruitment process to gain insight into the applicants. First, it is good to know that there is a distinction between game-based assessments and gamified assessments. The latter is referred to as gamification, which means that game elements are applied in an assessment. Think of a bar that indicates how far you are in the process.

Game-based assessments are really about games that measure behavior and generate insight into the candidate’s potential. A great example of this is Achmea’s case in which candidates are asked to hack a fictitious system.

There are different forms of game-based assessments:

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Psychometric assessments
  • Situational judgement games


The top category maps brain qualities. A specific form of this is brain-based serious gaming. In this way you can make a pure match between potential – what you can and who you are – and job.

The brain largely determines whether we are good at certain tasks or not and each person has a unique brain profile. This personal brainprofile makes that one person matches a position or role better than another.

All people have natural strengths and weaknesses in their cognitive profile. Having a job that matches your strengths will make you happier and more productive – regardless of your previous education or previous work experience. Some organizations use so-called IQ tests or capacities tests to measure, for example, work and thinking levels. This is based on the idea that work experience and IQ predict the best success. These tests have the disadvantage that they often require a good understanding of language or knowledge of certain school skills. In addition, some people have a language problem such as dyslexia, which would give them a disadvantage. You therefore run the risk of excluding certain target groups or putting them at a disadvantage. Games can be made by anyone, no knowledge of a language is required.

Making a match between qualities and tasks through games democratizes the recruiting process and allows everyone to stand out solely based on their ability to excel at the job.

Brain-Based Gaming Can Reduce Bias

Recently, gamification has been widely used in selection processes, where we see a positive impact on reducing bias, especially in brain-based gaming. Brain-based games are easy to play for everyone and require no other skills such as language proficiency or training. If a brain-based game is used, the greatest gains, in terms of bias reduction, will be made when the results are assessed before the CV is viewed.